The Great Arizona Orphan Abductionby Linda Gordon
Pub. Date: 11/28/1999
Publisher: Harvard University Press
In 1904, New York nuns brought forty Irish orphans to a remote Arizona mining camp, to be placed with Catholic families. The Catholic families were Mexican, as was the majority of the population. Soon the town's Anglos, furious at this "interracial" transgression, formed a vigilante squad that kidnapped the children and nearly lynched the nuns and the local priest. The Catholic Church sued to get its wards back, but all the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in favor of the vigilantes. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction tells this disturbing and dramatic tale to illuminate the creation of racial boundaries along the Mexican border. Clifton/Morenci, Arizona, was a "wild West" boomtown, where the mines and smelters pulled in thousands of Mexican immigrant workers. Racial walls hardened as the mines became big business and whiteness became a marker of superiority. These already volatile race and class relations produced passions that erupted in the "orphan incident." To the Anglos of Clifton/Morenci, placing a white child with a Mexican family was tantamount to child abuse, and they saw their kidnapping as a rescue. Women initiated both sides of this confrontation. Mexican women agreed to take in these orphans, both serving their church and asserting a maternal prerogative; Anglo women believed they had to "save" the orphans, and they organized a vigilante squad to do it. In retelling this nearly forgotten piece of American history, Linda Gordon brilliantly recreates and dissects the tangled intersection of family and racial values, in a gripping story that resonates with today's conflicts over the "best interests ofthe child."
- Harvard University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.44(w) x 9.46(h) x 1.38(d)
Table of Contents
- Cast of Principal Characters
- October 2, 1904, Night, North Clifton, Arizona
- September 25, 1904: Grand Central Station, New York City
- 1. King Copper
October 1, 1904, 6:30 p.m.: Clifton Railroad Station
- 2. Mexicans Come to the Mines
October 1, 1904, around 7:30 p.m.: Sacred Heart Church, Clifton
- 3. The Priest in the Mexican Camp
October 2, 1904, Afternoon: Morenci Square and Clifton Library Hall
- 4. The Mexican Mothers and the Mexican Town
October 2, 1904, Evening: The Hills of Clifton
- 5. The Anglo Mothers and the Company Town
October 2, 1904, Night: Clifton Hotel
- 6. The Strike
October 3–4, 1904: Clifton Drugstore and Library Hall, Morenci Hotel
- 7. Vigilantism
January 1905: Courtroom of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court, Phoenix
- 8. Family and Race
- Sonoran Highlands Mining Region in 1903
- Old Clifton and Morenci
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It contained too much background information. Perhaps if the author had done a better job in engaging the reader and make history less dull. I had to read this book for a history class. (I'm not sure what my professor was thinking.) Far to boring to be recommended. It bounced back from the whole Mexican-American Mining issues to the actual orphans. I was disappointed, I wish it would have focused more on the orphans. This book is by far one of the only books I have had trouble finishing because of its uninteresting writing.
I had to read this book for a history class, otherwise I would have stopped reading about 100 pages into it. I agree with the other reviewer who said that there were interesting areas of the book, but it seemed to go on and on and on... After a while I just wanted to know what happened to the kids and close the book. The author could have made it about 100 pages shorter, easily. It was a page turner, but only because I kept looking to see how much more I had to go through.
This book was much better, then I thought it was going to be. A must read for people intrested in a social aspect of this event.
I personally hated the book. Some aspects of it were interesting, but it was a very DRY and BORING read. The book was centered around the Orphan Abduction, but it rarely talked about it. The Abduction part took up about 20 pages (of the 407 pages) and the rest was background information on Migrant Workers from Mexico and like the other reviewer said, the treatment of orphans. Stress added on DRY(!!!) and BORING(!!!).
I had to read this book for a history class and I really enjoyed it. The book opened my eyes on how orphans were treated at the turn of the century. I would have chose this book even if it was not required. I could have done without the history of coal mining, but it gave me a view of how life was for the Mexicans.